Of Love Universality, Cross-breeding and Interracial Relationships

Technology exists today that you can monitor brain activity associated with being in love. However, up until recently, most of the studies have been done in the Western world, which is only a minor part of the world. So is love truly universal as the idealists would have you believe, or is it cross-cultural and different among cultures like so many things are? I mean, different cultures don’t express love the same ways. They don’t court mates in the same ways. They don’t assign roles or values in love the same ways. In fact, I doubt you could find anything universal about love across all cultures.

But good news. No. Great news!

Love is truly universal!

Dr Art Aron, a professor of psychology at Stony Brook university in New York, and graduate student Xiaomeng Xu, have shown love to be universal by brain activity (Tara Parker-Pope, NY Times blog). Brain activity is the thing that counts when it comes to being able to scientifically define love. For all the talk of feelings and the heart, that’s all metaphors. Brain activity is where it’s at.

They measured and mapped brain activity of people in different cultures claiming to be in love, shown pictures of their loved ones, and did this for some over an 18 month period as relationships sometimes changed. What they got were some “very clear patterns”, according to Dr Aron. However, he cautions against being able to predict the future of relationships on differences on brain patterns seen among those who stayed in and fell out of love during the time they were monitored. Seems the patterns were an indicator of the present state, and not good enough to predict whether the state would persist or degrade in the future.

Still, it is great to be able to scientifically say love is truly universal among humanity!

Yet, despite all this, I cannot help but think of the paradoxes of racism and interracial relationships which I had seen and felt ever since I was a Vietnamese refugee child in Canada. Interracial relationships have generally been taboo in North America. Sure, there are enough people who accept it, though I will save stories of experiments I’ve done which have shown far fewer would embrace it than accept it in others in some places. In other words, I don’t care if someone else does it but not me. But interracial relationships are still taboo. In Nova Scotia, where I live, an interracial couple has been twice subject to hate crimes in early 2010 (CBC). It was the actions of a few, not representative of a community who rallied around the couple, but those actions don’t come out of nowhere without others someone having propagated the sentiments in the guilty in the first place.

Anyhow, what I’ve long wondered is this. I see people cooing and getting giddy over cross-breeds of dogs, cats and other animals all the time. It’s exotic and prized. Yet, two people of the same species, and we are all homo sapiens, who differ in skin colour, aren’t approved to be able to love each other and be with each other?

You tell me how this makes sense.

It’s just as paradoxical as why tanning is so cool, but being brown naturally and longer than a few weeks at a time is not.

Tell me how that also makes sense.

It doesn’t.

But tragically, that’s what makes us human and not Vulcans.


Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.9

Haliscapes and Harbourscapes

Below are some of favourite photos among the many I had taken prior to 2010 of the Halifax Regional Municipality, mostly around the harbour close to which I live. Brief descriptions are below the gallery.

Please click on thumbnail you want to see a larger version. If the picture is cut off by the website layout, please click on it again to get the picture alone (then click the Back button on your browser to return to the site). Comments are with each picture.

Please click here to see more of my photography on this website.


It’s Over Susan Boyle, Hollie Steel’s Got Your Number


Update from May 15, click here to share what Hollie Steel and Susan Boyle should sing next in Britain’s Got Talent in order to be better than the other!

From May 30, see Hollie’s semi-final and final performances.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


OH… MY… GOODNESS!!! Whatever’s in the water over there in Britain, the Americans could only wish they had the same thing going. Where the British keep finding some of these talents is beyond me but have a listen to what little 10 year old Hollie Steel does in her Britain’s Got Talent 2009 audition… especially the last notes in the song that she hits… and I mean HITS! Can you say, ree-DONK-u-lous???

Hollie Steel

Hollie Steel

Well, wait a minute. I take that all back. I actually have no words worthy of what I saw Hollie do in that video.

However, I had to come up with a story to blog and share this video because my superlatives weren’t good enough. So how’s about me making the call Hollie’s going to beat out Susan Boyle to win Britain’s Got Talent 2009 unless some even more amazing comes along? That might be hard to imagine but, hey, that was hard to imagine when Susan Boyle did her audition. You can leave your opininon in the poll below to agree or disagree with me if Hollie will win, but here’s my reasoning, psycho and social analysis, Siminh Cowell style! 😉

Let’s start with talent. After all, BGT is a talent show, right?

No contest. Hollie Steel could sing Susan Boyle out of the auditorium. Don’t get me wrong, I like Susan Boyle’s voice a lot, but she simply doesn’t have the power, dexterity, range, timbre or much of any other qualities by one gauges a voice that little Hollie does. This girl could sing the birds out of Britain, never mind Susan Boyle out of the auditorium! If there were no birds in Britain left next year, it won’t be because of climate change. They’ll have gone to where the singing competition weren’t nearly as tough!

Second, not in importance but what popped into my mind, appearance. Are you kidding me? Sure, the old spinster look is charming and refreshing among all those teenage pop stars and older ones who overdo their looks, but that can’t complete with an adorable 10 year old girl cuter than any button I’ve ever seen!

Third, expectations. Susan got the audience so riled up because initial expectations for her were below Hollie’s. People were so cynical towards Susan, which was what made her audition video so moving the way she turned them on a dime to be her supporters. Of course, Hollie dealt with cynicism towards her in the form of Simon Cowell flashing his hand just 15 seconds into her audition, ready to buzz out her out at 3:19 left in the video. But true to her name, she was solid steel to stand her ground. She did not so much as even flinch at the sight of his look and opened hand. She just waited for a few seconds till the music queued her in, opened her mouth, almost as if on queue to respond, and released a tsunami of a singing voice that startled Simon back in his place, with a shocked reaction on his face that was just priceless! But, in general, Hollie was a cute girl people were hoping to succeed from the start. Nobody likes to see a little girl get crushed publicly, and so the expectation change from start to end for Hollie wasn’t nearly as large as Susan’s. Just look at judge Kelly Brook‘s face light up at 3:54 remaining in the video when Hollie came out. Kelly was just enamoured with this girl throughout! However, next time out, the surprise will be gone for both. The audience will listen and they’ll look, to which I defer to my first and second arguments above in favour of Hollie.

Fourth, determination versus innocence. Susan Boyle knew she could “rock” that audience as she said in her audition video. It was a matter of people giving her the chance. She was going on determination, not innocence. She knew she was good, had recorded before and that it was her looks that stood in her way. Hollie Steel, meanwhile, “only entered in the competition so she did not feel left out when her 15 year old brother Josh also went for an audition”, according to the UK Telegraph. It may be easier to admire determination than innocence, but I argue it’s easier to fall in love with innocence. If BGT isn’t a talent contest, it certainly is a popularity contest. Hollie’s got talent, and she’s got love, doubly trumping Susan again. Besides, Simon’s already issued public warnings to Susan to focus on the contest and not get carried away with fame. Susan’s already lost her innocence. As for Hollie and determination, she’s got plenty, overcoming near death from pneumonia at the age of four!

Finally, voter demographics. Britain and the Western world are getting older. Susan Boyle’s got a lot more people in her age bracket (40-60 year olds) than 0-20 year olds in Hollie Steel’s age bracket, half of whom won’t likely be calling in much. However, last I checked, children, especially adorable little girls singing the birds to shame, rather loved by the general public. I think a lot of people Susan’s age will vote for Hollie the kid, hoping or having grandchildren of their own at their age. It’s all about the children at that age, not your fellow age groupers who are talking about failing body parts and new medication! And no, those few cowardly cyber bullies doing stupid things online dissing little Hollie, hiding behind their Internet covers, aren’t nearly enough to alter the votes. (see Sun story link below)

Right now, Susan Boyle is still the 1-2 favourite (The Sun, UK), but I’m going to step out and call it for Hollie barring a better candidate later.

Right or wrong, though, BGT 2009 has got me hooked! I will be following this year the rest of the way!

As for their American equivalents, I blogged just the other day asking what does America’s Got Talent, or American Idol, have to compete with Britain’s Got Talent seeing videos the likes of Connie Talbot, Paul Potts, Susan Boyle? The question becomes even more pressing now with Hollie Steel coming along! I’m starting to think those American shows should be called America Ain’t Got No Talent and American Idle! Go to the post questioning that talent and prove me wrong with some answers!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.6